Recurrent SMS Training Expenses Outweigh Benefits?
Aviation service providers investing in aviation safety management systems (SMS) can expect to reduce
- injuries, and
These reductions save providers in a variety of ways, such as
- lower insurance costs;
- lower equipment replacement costs;
- reduced medical expenses from workers' compensation claims,
- avoiding regulatory penalties,
- reducing costs to train replacement employees, and
- conducting accident investigations.
Service providers often find that changes made to improve aviation safety programs result in significant improvements to their organization's productivity and financial performance.
A challenge that every safety manager faces is to provide regular SMS training to all employees within a limited budget. Most managers know that intensive aviation SMS training courses are not required for all employees. Not only are SMS training courses expensive, but they also do not align with most employees' duties and responsibilities.
Let's look at a simple way to provide recurrent aviation SMS training to most of your organization's employees within budget using aviation safety articles. When you can provide recurrent SMS training very cheaply, you can see the benefits outweigh the costs.
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Ambiguous SMS Training Requirements Confuse Managers
While regulations state that SMS training must be delivered, there are no requirements stating how the training must be delivered. Furthermore, there are no standards as to the quality of the training. This ambiguity confuses many safety professionals.
I'm not saying that your training should be substandard. To realize the benefits of a safety program, you must be willing to do some work. You should not ignore hazard identification and hazard reporting training for all employees. Hazard identification and reporting are among the most important part of every SMS program. Therefore, you should ensure each employee is trained in these areas, including:
- Initial training; and
- Recurrent training (every 12 to 18 months).
Common sense dictates that larger, more complex operations require more structured training for employees engaged in daily risk management processes. Most SMS training courses can quickly become very expensive, running from $500 to $2,500 per employee. In some cases, the cost is considerably more. These costs don't include time lost while employees are participating in the SMS training courses.
Not All Employees Need Intensive SMS Training Courses
Luckily, most employees don't need advanced SMS training courses and can learn by using online materials. Smaller companies can satisfy SMS training requirements by regularly reading aviation safety articles. Even larger companies should encourage all employees to read educational safety articles relating to the aviation industry.
For example, department heads and executives will benefit from particular topics, such as:
- Safety performance monitoring;
- Management of change;
- Continuous improvement; and
- Management commitment and responsibilities.
Employees in the safety and quality departments would benefit from educational safety articles covering:
- Training and education;
- Safety communication;
- Risk assessment and mitigation;
- Safety accountabilities; and
- Managing SMS documentation.
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SMS Training Commensurate to SMS Role
Administration and line employees require the least amount of SMS training. You may consider hosting an SMS training course for these employees, but in my opinion, this is overkill. It is better to provide some automated SMS training that can be easily:
- Administered (such as Web videos and documentation);
- Tracked using an aviation SMS database with training components;
- Monitored for when employees require recurrent SMS training;
- Adapted or changed when new training materials warrant;
- Demonstrated to SMS program auditors looking for proof of training.
Recurrent Aviation SMS Training Can Be Very Simple
If you are a small company, or you wish to provide recurrent SMS training to a large employee base, an "aviation safety article training library" can be effective. As the name implies, you have a library or large collection of educational safety articles written by subject matter experts.
The best safety article libraries are categorized according to easily recognizable topics, such as the four pillars of ICAO-compliant SMS programs. For review, these four pillars are:
- Safety Policy;
- Safety Risk Management;
- Safety Assurance; and
- Safety Promotion.
If you don't have a library, they are not very hard to make. Very small companies can use Excel spreadsheets to document when users read a particular safety article. The important point to remember is that these activities must be documented. An aviation SMS database is the best solution.
Benefits of Aviation SMS Database Program
Besides providing and tracking SMS training, an aviation SMS database program has many other benefits. If your SMS database does not have this feature, I encourage you to request it. This is not a very difficult tool to create and manage.
If you build your aviation safety article library, make sure that you can easily add additional safety articles. There are very good articles that come out constantly by SMS consultants and SMS training companies.
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Educational Safety Articles Supplement Other SMS Training Materials
In conclusion, when it comes time to train employees on the recurring SMS requirements, I recommend using educational safety articles. These satisfy the requirement of recurrent SMS training as long as they are documented. For companies that have stricter requirements, you may use aviation safety articles in your curriculum and supplement these training materials with quizzes and videos.
Industry leaders agree that SMS programs make good business sense. It is highly unlikely they envisioned operators spending enormous amounts of money on recurrent SMS training. Although it is a requirement, effective training can be provided very easily and make good business sense.
If you want to build your own aviation safety articles training library, here is a list of safety articles to seed your database. Instructions are included as to other possible use cases.
If you want a turn-key solution to track both initial and recurrent SMS training, you may be interested in SMS Pro. Since 2007, SMS Pro has been providing aviation SMS databases to operators around the world. Learn how your SMS can become compliant using SMS Pro.
Last updated in August 2023.